Saturday, February 24 , 2018, 2:34 am | Fair 36º


Susan Estrich: This Is Not the Music of Freedom

When I try to come up with any way that the election of Donald Trump has hidden benefits that I have failed to recognize (other than the huge tax cut he apparently believes that I deserve far more than virtually everyone else in my family because I have and make more money), the one thing that stands out is music: Donald Trump has brought music back into my, life.

Yes, music. The truth is that I've been a news junkie and a political addict since I was a little girl and woke up my parents during the Republican Convention in 1964 to tell them we had to send a telegram supporting Bill Scranton over Barry Goldwater.

That was a long time ago, and there were years when those who were wiser than me might have chosen a different vocation or "hobby." Mine never changed.

I worked in campaigns, wrote about them in books and newspapers, talked about them on radio and television, tried to share my enthusiasm (not my politics) with generations of students, Republicans and Democrats.

"I don't care if you are a Republican or Democrat," I would tell my students. "I only care that you care about politics."

Civic literacy, I called it — which worked well when folks like George W. Bush and John McCain and Mitt Romney were running.

Now I listen to music. On the way to and from work, I no longer sit an extra minute to catch the end of a news story; I'm listening to music. I've spent too many hours talking about what went wrong.

Donald Trump won. The Republicans control the House and Senate.

I remember how tough things were in 1981, when Democrats lost the White House and the Senate, but held onto the House. It was miserable. We fought. Every day, we lost.

I'll read about it, but do I have to hear about it when the alarm goes off in the morning, when I'm crawling to the office?

That was until yesterday, when the little news bites on my music station caught me. Usually the "news" is about Hollywood celebrities splitting up or not splitting up, which pretty much falls into the background as much as music. But not yesterday.

The news bite was about groups who had sent out such vicious fake news about Hillary Clinton that it actually led to an armed confrontation — another story about the detriments of fake news. 

But this item didn't make it on to my music show because it was based on fake news. I mean, what's new about fake news, really?

Campaigns have been spreading fake news since I've been in the business. If you're old enough, you might remember the U.S. senator who claimed to have a picture (which turned out to be doctored) of Kitty Dukakis burning a flag at an anti-war demonstration.

And no, Bill Clinton did not have an illegitimate child; neither did John McCain. There has been plenty of fake news through the decades.

Here's the punchline: The most prominent fellow spreading the fake news about Clinton, fake news that led to an armed confrontation at a pizza parlor, was not some nut-ball with a website.

He was a member of Donald Trump's transition team. And his father is in line to be national security adviser. I almost drove off the road.

These are the best and brightest? These are the people who are going to drain the swamp? How do you drain the swamp when you are a creature of it? 

A president-elect can still play like the facts don't matter: Trump can claim that he "won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally" — never mind how false and baseless that claim is.

In December, he can get away with murder. But come January, the ammunition is real, and even my favorite music station will not be able to drown out the consequences.

Susan Estrich is a best-selling author, the Robert Kingsley Professor of Law and Political Science at the USC Law Center and was campaign manager for 1988 Democratic presidential nominee Michael Dukakis. Click here to contact her or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.

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